Education / 31.03.2009

By Anjum Altaf This is an edited version of the submission made on behalf of the International Coalition for Education Reform in Pakistan (ICERP) to the Pakistan Conference organized by students at Harvard and MIT. The questions are intended to stimulate discussion; supporting arguments can be found in the listed resources. A number of the resources pertain to India reflecting the generic issues common to the two countries. The Big Questions 1. Why is Pakistan still half illiterate? The lack of political will or of money are not convincing answers. There is not enough political pressure to make education a high priority issue for governments. Ruling elites tolerate only as much mass education as is necessary because it is subversive of the status quo especially in societies based on oppression. 2. Can NGOs fill the gap? The arithmetic does not support this contention. The issue of scale is important. The...

Ghalib / 26.09.2008

We keep discovering that Ghalib was ahead of his time. Here he is showing us how to do participant-observer research: banaa kar faqiiroN kaa ham bhes Ghalib tamaashaa-e ahl-e karam dekhte haiN having put on the guise of faqirs, Ghalib we observe the spectacle of the people of generosity The meaning is clear: Ghalib is not in need of alms himself; he is disguising himself as an alms-seeker in order to observe and understand the behavior of alms-givers. (For a more detailed interpretation see Mehr-e-Niimroz.) The question is: Why does Ghalib wish to undertake this exercise? Presumably, because he feels that the motivations of alms-givers are complex and all is not what it seems on the surface. Let us explore this subject in the context of our times and in the context of South Asia. In a number of posts on The South Asian Idea we have remarked on the fact that South...